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WEAPONS OF KOBUDO - TONFA

There is in principal only one kind of Tonfa although the shaft varies in shape from round to rectangular. History has also shown the butt ends to be pointed but this is extremely rare. There are only a few so called traditional kata for the tonfa, although many more basic, or training, kata have been developed in more recent times.

The weapon is used in pairs and is of wood, again red oak or white oak preferably in keeping with the Bo. The length of the weapon is also the same requirements as the Sai, about three centimetres past the elbow when gripped. The weight like the Bo is paramount to the efficient usage of the weapon. Too light and it lacks power in Kumite, too heavy and the techniques lack speed and become ponderous.

Good body movement like the Sai can make this weapon formidable, combining the speed it needs and generates along with the skilful footwork for evasion and attack.

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Tonfa

Although there are stories of rice millstone grinding implements and horses bridles etc. as being the origins of this weapon, these are merely coincidental. The weapons origins can clearly be traced back to China and be found in Indonesia and surrounding geographical locations. While the weapon may have been introduced into Okinawa via China (or elswhere in southern Asia), it still does not rule out its use as a mill handle. It may have been "back adapted", by the enterprising Okinawans, in order to keep its use secret.

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Courtesy of RKAGB

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